Laptop Selection
January 11, 2010 12:31 PM   Subscribe

Which laptop is best in the range USD 400 to USD 600? I need to buy in USA.

My criteria for good laptop is (in order of priority):

1. Good battery backup time
2. minimum Core 2 Duo (or higher).
3. minimum 2 GB RAM (or higher),
4. around 15 inch screen
5. Weight not more than 2.5 kgs.

Please suggest from one of HP, Toshiba, Compaq or Lenovo brands.
posted by inquisitive to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I just got a Toshiba Satellite 4050 something something for around $400 from Best Buy, and it seems to be pretty much spot on for your requirements. YMMV, of course. The battery is probably the weak point on your calculus; it seems like it's averaging around 2 to 2.5 hours per charge under normal (i.e., I wasn't watching a DVD) working conditions. But at that price, you could probably buy another battery.
posted by norm at 12:47 PM on January 11, 2010

The cheaper laptops tend to have screens with piss-poor viewing angles. If you're not right in front of them the colors go off -- often into negative values. If you like to watch video in couch or on the bed with someone else, this is something to consider. I purchased a $500 Toshiba laptop with a 15" LCD for my wife and I refuse to watch anything with her on it because of this issue. Fortunately, my laptop doesn't have this issue so we have an alternative.
posted by pmbuko at 1:07 PM on January 11, 2010

From many I have seen at work and one my wife owned at home Toshiba have terrible problems with their power systems that develop right after 1 year or so (just as the warranty expires). Every Toshiba at work more than 1 year old generally needs to be kept plugged in to function. Unplugged they only hold a charge for about 10 minutes.

The one my wife owned developed this problem then got worse in that the charging system itself failed after about 18 months. So it could not hold a charge and was extremely difficult to operate even plugged in.

I would never purchase or recomend anyone else purchase a Toshiba laptop.
posted by Riemann at 1:48 PM on January 11, 2010

I have a Lenovo Thinkpad. I know some people love them, but mine has just been problems, problems, problems. I had to get a part replaced when it was only a few months old, and it took almost a month to get it sorted out. Now it's a year old, and one of the hinges is broken! But I had similar issues with a cheap Dell laptop.

Moral of the story: sub-$600 laptops are almost never reliable, so it's probably best to just find the one with the best specs at your price point, and expect to have to replace it in a couple of years.
posted by wholebroad at 3:54 PM on January 11, 2010

I agree with wholebroad. If you only have $500 to spend, get a nice netbook (less powerful, but more portable and good quality at that price) or a desktop (less portable, but very powerful in that price range).

IMO, laptops are currently in a very uncomforable middle ground. They are not portable enough to carry without noticing, and they are not powerful (or flexible) enough to replace a desktop. I have a powerful desktop and an old eeepc, and find it the perfect combination. If the eee dies, no biggie, a new one is $200 now. If the desktop breaks, it's easy to cheaply repair the affected component. Neither can be said of laptops.
posted by jrockway at 6:54 PM on January 11, 2010

I picked up a Dell Inspiron (1545) in December for about $480:

15" display
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz
It is around/under 6 lbs.
4.5 hour battery life (can upgrade to 8 hr. for about $40)

I am not sure if this is the *best* at the price point but I looked and looked and dug around before buying. I have an old Dell laptop that is almost 8 years old and still works wonderfully - it's just old and slow because it's so old. That was a big factor in purchasing another Dell. (I bought a Compaq laptop for $400 3 years ago that was dead after 18 months.)

A netbook was not for me. I won't be tossing this laptop in my bag and going to the mall, it stays at home in the same place most of the time.
posted by getawaysticks at 5:52 AM on January 12, 2010

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